Vancouver: Bear hunting with the Godfather!

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November 5th 2012
Published: November 14th 2012
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We arrived in Vancouver after a long day of travelling which had been an emotional one, Lauren gutted to have left Hannah, and even Ben sad, he had grown fond of little Preston! We navigated our way in the cool air from Vancouver train station to the sky train to the stadium station following expert instructions from Nigel. We had included a visit to this beautiful part of Canada in the hope of catching up with Ben's godfather (Nigel) and his wife, Jan. Luckily at our leaving meal some months ago, Jacqui, Ben's auntie and Nigel's ex wife set up the contact and we arranged some time ago that we would stay with them the first few days of November. Ben hadn't seen them in a number of years and Lauren never so we were definitely looking forward to the catch up. Lauren had only ever seen photos on Facebook of Nigel yet as we arrived at the station a few hundred yards from Nigel's office Lauren knew he was leaning against the wall awaiting us and sure enough it was him!

We greeted one another as family before heading out to pick up Jan who finished work slightly later in the city. We headed back to their home about a half hour drive, chatting non stop and taking in the night time view of the city and a great bridge called "Lions Bridge". We admired the lights and skyscraper skyline (a favourite of ours) before heading North to a beautiful area called Furry Creek. We couldn't see much at this time but knew we were driving along a large patch of water and among ski resorts. At the house, which was gorgeous, we got settled and chatted with wine and beer before a dinner of chilli and jacket potatoes which was very much appreciated. We headed to bed feeling as though we had known them for the last few years! They had moved here from the UK about three years earlier and it was a great conversation to hear what they made of it and how it changed them and relationships back home, in case we do decide to move away.

Friday and we relaxed in the morning eating some homemade corn bread. We headed slightly north to a Walmart when we were ready, Lauren taking a while to actually wash her hair properly and not only blow dry but straighten her hair! We then headed in to Vancouver centre so we could sightsee (shop) and would catch a lift back after Nigel finished work. Jan showed us sights as we passed but although we had no rain it was a pretty miserable day! Once in Vancouver we said goodbye for now, and headed to do some walking tours in a book they had given us to use. We did a few, heading down to the waterfront and looking at interesting architectural buildings but Lauren was desperate for a gilet waistcoat so reluctantly Ben hit a few shops with her. Purchases made we grabbed some flowers and wine on our way to meet Nigel.

Back at home we decided it would be nice to go for a meal, but the great thing here is no one dresses up so we were lucky to go as we were as we didn't have much dressing up clothes that were warm! We drove north and went to a lovely Italian where we had steak and pasta washed down with local beer and wine for Lauren! We were surprised how busy everywhere was, Jan and Nigel shocked at the lack of parking available!

Saturday meant one thing to Nigel- Premier league football! Being in Canada they had a subscription that showed all the games including the 3pm kick offs you can't see in the UK so he watched those and the 5.15 match (9.15am for us) which was his team, Manchester City. After this we headed out to Vancouver area and went to a place called Granville Island, although not an island in its truest form as it had a road connecting it, but no less beautiful. We had lunch at a seafood place but served other things that we munched on, before shopping in a huge market full of every type of produce thinkable and a clothes and children's market! jan and Nigel even bumped into someone the knew through family that had moved over showing what a small world we live in! We drove through Stanley Park once left, the largest urban green space after NYC in Northern America! We were also showed downtown where the official Winter Olympic 2010 signs were. We went to a cute but very expensive local produce grocery store for ice cream to go with our dessert of pumpkin pie that we found, the last thing Lauren was left to try on her pumpkin food quest! The late afternoon and evening was a chilled out affair, just what was needed ahead of a chicken dinner followed by the infamous pumpkin pie that was delicious! We then sat to watch Mission Impossible 4 and couldn't believe it when the final scene was Granville Island! We all turned in, ahead of a busy day Sunday.

Unfortunately it was another grim day but we set out to do what we intended regardless. We visited two waterfalls, although ninth very different. The first, Shannon Falls, was just off the road ahead of a huge granite mountain, the largest in the world after Ayres Rock, Australia. The falls were huge in length and quite thunderous set within a small woodland area. The second further away required a small walk through a forest and across a railroad and as we rounded the corner Nigel made us not peek to our right until we got to the viewing platform. It was well worth it to see a fantastic overflow into a large basin of water, similar but way more impressive than the falls we saw in The Tablelands, Australia. We walked a little more to see the whole valley where the sun looked like it was peeking out.

We headed north more for the last half an hour journey to Whistler, the famous ski resort that prior to this trip Lauren had never heard of! Although there was no snow it was as impressive to see all the runs and mountains with no snow on to actually see how they look for three quarters of the year, something neither of us had seen before. We ate lunch sharing meals at a pub called "Amsterdam Bar" with some unusual "Dam" requests like all girls can dance on any surface they see fit, and letting us know 25c is not a tip! We then headed out for a walk with Starbucks beverages to keep us warm with one thing on our minds- find a bear! Nigel and Jan had had many a trip here and seen countless numbers of bears, even Jan's son, Chris, had them follow him home when he worked a ski season here! But as the rain started the bears had obviously retreated although it wasn't quite hibernation time. By the time we decided bears would not be found we were drenched through as we hurried back to the car, Nigel finishing the last bit as we stood inside drip drying! Nigel picked us up, having changed into some shorts in the boot, and we headed the hour journey home soaked through! Back home we put our washing on and changed into something dry and warm enough to head out to dinner. We went to their favourite, in a similar location to the place we dined Friday night. Called the Watershed, it wasn't an impressive log cabin on the waterfront but inside with football showing and a fire it was enough to call it home for the next hour! We had great food, no wonder they liked it here, and then Ben was up! There is a Canadian drink here called "The Caesar" which is clam-ato juice with vegetables in, similar to a Bloody Mary but with clam juice and courgettes! It looked and tasted disgusting but to his credit Ben drank it all! Laughing, we made our way back, finished our washing, said goodbye and thank you to Nigel and retired to bed.

We were shocked by our view Monday mornings ahead of our departure as not only could we see out of the windows but we saw a gorgeous view ahead of mountains and the river and snow capped mountains and a glacier! This is the view they get most of the year until rain hits in October until snow replaces it in December! We were very pleased to have seen it and snapped away the whole way to the airport, Jan kindly taking us up Cyprus Point Ski Resort to see Vancouver centre in the distance and more dry ski runs plus the other side of Stanley Park. We arrived at the airport with enough time to get checked in and grab a bite to eat. After a huge thank you and goodbye to Jan we were up, up and away to New Orleans via Texas.

Things of note:

Don't drink a whole Caesar- but you gotta at least try it!

Vancouver is always competing with Melbourne to be voted ,its liveable city in the world - and it is not hard to see why, it has it all, great landscapes and buildings, activities and weather (mostly).

Whistler is just as famous in summer for mountain biking as it is in winter for skiing. Bears often come down to the lower valleys to forage for food, if they get into big centres they are tagged and moved back north, if they come again and present a threat then they are shot, the tag buys them a life.

We learnt that most Canadians live within 100 miles of the American border (90%) yet here and Toronto never seemed that busy- a testament to how huge Canada is but unpopulated!

If going to America you pass through customs on the Canadian side- so no waiting in the USA but allow time in Canada to accommodate this.

What would we do differently:

Again nothing, we had a great time, but we would come again to see the place in summer and winter, there just seemed so much to do!

Thefts: 0

Near Misses: 0 - only as we found no bear!!

Fallouts: 0

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


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